I will admit to you now that I never considered homeschooling my kids. Not because I disagree with the concept, of course, but because I instinctively knew I was not up to the overwhelming task of teaching my four sons anything, really, beyond, brush your teeth. I suspect not even that lesson stuck properly. Perhaps if I had access to Michelle Duggar's homeschool curriculum, I might have felt more confident. Because the mother of 19 makes it all sound like a walk in the park.
The reality star mom made famous by TLC's series 19 Kids & Counting and the current offshoot Counting On has become famous for doling out plenty of ultra-conservative parenting advice over the years. Most (or all, depending on your point of view) of it tends to be controversial to say the least. So, too, is her advice on homeschooling her children, something she has done since her oldest child was just 4 years old. She wrote about her early years as a homeschooling mom for TLC in 2010 in response to a request for tips on the subject, and all of her advice seemed to lead to the same place. Have fun, don't be too hard on yourself, and let your kids lead you. Which seems very different from the strict set of rules the Duggar children, particularly the daughters, tend to be expected to follow.
As Michelle wrote in her blog for TLC:
Of course, our goal has been to do a Christian-based curriculum -- one in which there's a lot of character emphasis, character building like responsibility, honesty, self control. All those kind of things are woven into the stuff that we use. I find that there are so many things out there that you could look forever and probably not exhaust the opportunities for what you want to do.
As for her particular curriculum, Michelle advocates for taking things slow at first. She tries to get reading dealt with first by playing games like "Go Fish" and phonics games for the younger children in 15-minute intervals, because their attention span isn't great. Once they learn to read, Michelle uses the ACE curriculum (Accelerated Christian Education), which the website describes as:
Core curriculum provides students with academics, skill building, reading practice, character and wisdom training, and knowledge of God and His Word. This complete package begins with reading development and progresses through high school, giving students a solid foundation for pursuing their life goals.
According to ACE, children are expected to work on 12 PACEs (Packet of Accelerated Christian Education) per level in all of the core subjects.
As her older daughters grew up, Michelle enlisted their help in homeschooling the younger children. The boys weren't expected to help teach, which is one of the issues so many fans continue to have with the Duggar family. There are a different set of expectations for sons and daughters in the Duggar family, and some of that could possibly be related to the ATI curriculum developed by the Institute in Basic Life Principles, a program Michelle has routinely championed (and linked to in the family blog). ATI uses scripture as a means to teach children, and some of the resources that were discovered by Gawker shared some truly disturbing misinformation (one worksheet used by ATI seemed to insinuate that semen causes cervical cancer if you have premarital sex, but married women manage to be miraculously immune). The same worksheets also noted that men cannot physically control themselves around women, therefore it's the responsibility of women to curb their appetites.
So here's my hot take from Michelle Duggar's homeschooling curriculum: playing "Go Fish" and phonics games? Yes. Telling daughters that semen can cause cervical cancer? Hard pass.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.